My Guardian Angel

The assignment he received was not ideal,
and he was more the distant scholar-type.
His research passion was French poster art.
“Everyone’s seen Lautrec,” he’d say, “and all
have marveled at Tourée du Chat Noir,
but how many have ever seen Rameau’s
De Dernier Boleau or have admired
the striking cover Abel Hermount did
for Nathalie Modare?” Still, he was
unfallen and he did his task until
he could retire to a coracle-like hut
down in Barbados—back to his research.

Despite the hiatus lasting eighty years,
he greeted me with grace, just as the kings
in The Odyssey would welcome strangers—like
Nestor and Menelaos and the King
of Phaecia. “Don’t think it’s your fault,”
he said. “I got my orders, that was all.
No big deal,” and he poured a rum for me
with ice and lime. We sat out on the beach
and watched the sun go down. We lounged and drank.
I asked, “Was I a hard case—tough to guard?
Or was it easy duty?” He leaned back.
He sipped his drink and organized his thoughts.
“I’ll tell the truth (I really have no choice).
You were no picnic, that’s sure. It was tough.
Your parents opened you to the occult.”

“Occult?” I sputtered. “How?” “When you were eight
you had a nosebleed they could not make stop.
Your aunt knew of a woman who could charm.
She tied a straw around your hand then said
a Bible verse. The nosebleed stopped but you
were marked. Soon every demon in that town
was after you. I had to fight them all.”
I marveled, asked, “What else?” “Well, in the place
you served your army time at there were lots
of bad influences. All the drugs you took
broke down your natural resistance to
demonic presences—and you were marked
by that old episode of sorcery. It took a lot
to keep you safe. There’s more. Yes, there’s lots more,
but why go on and on? You’re here. The things
they sent out didn’t get you.” “You must be
a pretty tough enforcer.” He chuckled.
“Not really. We’ve got more firepower than they
can muster—better weapons. And the guys
who fight for them are screwed up, can’t shoot straight,
and don’t make plans real well.” The sun had touched
the sea by now. The clouds had gone from red
to purple. I could see scars on his wings
as they trailed from the chaise lounge into sand.
He’d lost a finger too—feathers as well.
But he smiled, stretched, relaxed, enjoyed his drink,
enjoyed the sunset. “No assignment for
another thousand years,” he said, and sighed.
“More time to work on research.” I was glad.

by David Landrum

David W. Landrum has poems published, or forthcoming, in The Dark Horse, Pirene's Fountain, Soundzine, and many other journals and magazines. He teaches literature at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.

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